Prepping For Long Term Food Storage

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Have you ever wondered how you would provide for your family if a natural disaster took out the power grid in your area for a few weeks? What would happen if a food shortage swept over the states because of instability in the supply chains or food prices skyrocketed to obscene levels? How would you survive?

Of course, we haven’t seen anything too crazy in the USA in our lifetime. With the recent supply chain shortages and port congestions due to Covid related issues, we can ascertain what a more extensive global event could bring. In the past few years, we have seen unrest throughout the world. Civil unrest, rioters smashing windows, and looters stealing goods went from international headlines to happenings in our own backyard.

A quick search online will reveal lists of the top things you should have in case of an emergency. You will find that water and food are almost always at the top of the list. Here are a couple of ways that you can prepare for the worst, but at the same time, you can use the supplies for your everyday life, so nothing goes to waste.

Long Term Storage

Canning – There are two different ways to can food. One method is called “water bathing,” and the other is called “pressure canning.” All types of food must not be canned the same way. Acidic foods such as fruits, pickled vegetables, sugar preserves, and tomatoes with a bit of added acidity are some examples of foods processed in a water bath canner. Low acidic products, meats, soups, and all animal products must be processed using a pressure canner. The pressure canner uses steam to heat up the jars to a temperature higher than boiling water. This extreme heat kills dangerous bacteria that a regular boiling water bath canner can not. Before starting your canning journey, please read about botulism.

Don’t be scared of it. If you follow the correct process, you will be ok. There are great books out there to help you every step of the way. In theory, if the seal has been unbroken, canned goods can last for a few years. The USDA site gives a few guidelines.

Store commercially canned foods and other shelf stable products in a cool, dry place. Never put them above the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes. High acid foods such as tomatoes and other fruit will keep their best quality up to 18 months; low acid foods such as meat and vegetables, 2 to 5 years. If  cans are in good condition (no dents, swelling, or rust)  and have been stored in a cool, clean, dry place they are safe indefinitely. While extremely rare, a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the worst danger in canned goods.”

2. Vacuum Sealing – Foods can be vacuum sealed for long-term preservation. This method is usually done in tandem with either dehydration or freezing. This is a great way to preserve your food as well. Backpackers like to dehydrate their meals and vacuum seal them to condense their meals. There is no need to keep the hydrated meals cold, and its relatively easy to rehydrate the meal with water. Put the meal in a pot, add the needed water, and place the pot over your heat source. In a little bit, your meal will be ready to go. Dehydrated and vacuum-sealed meals can be stored from 4 months to 1 year. It all depends on your storage temperature. The hotter your storage room is, the shorter the storage time will be. The other method is, freezing your meats, vegetables, or fruits after vacuum-sealing them. By vacuum sealing the products, the taste will be fresher than if you had frozen them regularly.

Click here to read a great article on vacuum sealing dry goods for long-term storage.

These options require you to purchase items to start your food preservation. The initial cost will set you back a few hundred dollars, but the peace of mind is priceless.

  1. Canning requires the canner, water bath canner or pressure canner, glass jars, lids, and rings. You will also need a place to heat the canner. Keep in mind that you cannot use an all-glass stovetop. I like to use a gas stove for canning.
  2. Vacuum Sealing requires a vacuum sealer and bags or rolls to place your produce, meats, or meals inside to vacuum seal them.

Depending on the size of your reserve, you could easily have months or years of food stored in your pantry or basement to provide for your family. It never hurts to be prepared. Traditionally, people who can food, do it annually. That way, the food never expires, and they always have a supply in case hard times do come. So, start canning and enjoy the fruit of your labors!

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